Why networking is even more important after you land a job
So you just landed a job. Now is a great time to step up your networking efforts.
Sure, you worked your network hard to land the job in the first place. But the onboarding period — when the organization is prepping you to become a productive team member — is a critical time to establish new connections, says business consultant Alan Gregerman, author of “The Necessity of Strangers: The Intriguing Truth About Insight, Innovation and Success.” (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
“What happens is people are so happy to have a job and the organization has so much work to do, they start tackling all the stuff in their inbox,” Gregerman says. “There’s an orientation intended to show them how things work so they don’t miss a beat,” followed by intense focus on the work at hand.
Ideally, new hires should learn how their assigned work fits within the broader organization and seek out additional ways to contribute, Gregerman says. Attending departmental meetings and scheduling coffee dates with key individuals will provide a fuller picture of the organization and help you identify opportunities to maximize your value.
Understandably, “New employees don’t want to risk getting a job and looking like they’re angling for the boss’s job right away,” Gregerman says, nor do they want to appear overreaching and unfocused. So communicate your intentions to your boss, explaining that you want to learn about other parts of the organization to clarify your role and perhaps offer a fresh perspective. Your boss may even identify the folks it makes sense to meet with initially.
“You have a responsibility as a new hire to make connections across the organization and learn as much as you can to be more effective at your job,” says Gregerman, also an adjunct professor of innovation at Georgetown University.
Continue to network with people outside the organization, as well, Gregerman advises. These outside interactions will help you stay abreast of industry developments and expose you to prospective customers and partners as well as value-adding ideas and innovations, including new technologies, customer experiences and community involvement opportunities.
New and established employees alike can identify events throughout the calendar year to attend besides formal networking or industry events. It’s just another way to think outside the box and consistently throughout the year about networking, says Steve Gibson, founder of TalentServed, a hospitality industry recruiting firm based in Atlanta.
Each year, for example, Gibson and his team volunteer at the Taste of Atlanta food festival. “We put ourselves at their mercy, so we may be hauling ice or garbage, or we may get a plum assignment working the VIP tent,” he says.
Either way, “It’s important for us to be seen giving back to the community,” says Gibson, adding that “it’s not all altruistic.”
No matter if he’s hauling Hefty bags, he has an opportunity to meet and mingle with chefs and restaurant owners, making valuable contacts for business.
Like Gregerman, Gibson believes the best times for networking are when people generally are least likely to do it — including the onboarding period and every day thereafter of gainful employment.
“If you wait until you’re out of a job, I don’t want to say it’s too late, but it’s sure not the optimal time to start networking,” Gibson says. “There’s the common quote that the best time to get a job is when you already have a job, and that is so true from my perspective as a recruiter.”
That doesn’t mean you actively search for work. It just means you stay visible so your name comes up should an opportunity arise.
“You should really be trying consistently and hard to create deeper connections with people in your network,” Gregerman says. “We live in a LinkedIn and Facebook world, and while those are great tools, they have enabled people to create superficial connections.”
So schedule a pumpkin spice latte date and meet in person. You can also offer to bring coffee and ask for a quick tour and introductions at the person’s place of business, he suggests.
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